Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "I've Found A Friend O Such A Friend"1 (Lyrics)
1 Timothy 3:15 – If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. (NIV)
I am simply amazed at the number of people whom I know, including family members, who have thrown the baby out with the bathwater in regards to God and church. Sometimes, I feel like a magnet that draws people to myself who have been so hurt by the bride of Christ that they have not only left the church, but by doing so, have eventually also lost their faith in God. Every new story brings new heartache over this dilemma. The main problem is that people view the church as God's representative and voice on this earth, and indeed, that is what the church is supposed to be. But what we forget is that the church is made up of people — fallible people who are seeking to do the best they can in Christ — but who also fail desperately from time to time. This is why Christians, especially Christians who may bear the brunt of the church's failings, must be strong enough to trust that God is able amidst His bride's failures. God is able to direct us to the truth of Scripture to enable us to stand strong and tall when others knock us down, just as Martin Luther did so many years ago when he knew that he was right, though thousands stood against him. God is able to empower us to forgive those who trespass against us in the name of Christ. God is able to vindicate, justify, and grant us the peace that passes understanding when our reputations and characters are assassinated by those who believe that they have made godly decisions in our regard. God is able to continue to work within His church to make her spotless before Him, if only we will persevere to trust Him, instead of those who represent Him. We must therefore never ever make the terrible mistake of regarding the church as equal to God.
She is fallible; He is not.
This is the truth which I share with those whom I meet who have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, whose faith has been broken by the brokenness of God's people; people who have walked or crept or run away feeling so hurt and rejected and judged that they can no longer believe that God loves or cares about them, because to them, His representative on earth, the church, does not.
So today, if you know someone or you are someone who is thinking of leaving the church because of the pain it is inflicting upon you, or because of the sin it is committing against others, stop and consider this: Who is it you really worship? Who is it you praise and give thanks to and pray to on Sundays? Who knows all truth at all times and will make all things right on that final day? Consider also the forgiveness which has been and is now yours in Christ Jesus, and in His strength and humility, forgive as you have been forgiven; for it is only as we forgive that God can continue to use each and every one of us to love one another as He has loved us, and to bring hope and healing to His bride, the church, and to the world.
Prayer: Father God, we thank You for Your church, Your people, Your bride, and we pray today for cleansing, healing, forgiveness, and love to radiate from her, that all people will see and understand the great love and forgiveness that You have for them, no matter who they are or what they have done. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.